At Albina City, the nuts don’t fall far from the tree. That’s because the Portland, Oregon-based business is focused on one of the state’s greatest food treasures; earthy and buttery hazelnuts.
Formerly a certified cheesemonger, owner Scott Bell came upon a startling discovery — that most of the accompaniments he served with his fromage were European made. Eager to rely less on imports, and celebrate the natural bounty of Willamette Valley, he realized that in order to craft the ultimate snack, he didn’t need to look further than his own backyard.
Scott and his wife Heidi began fiddling with filberts in their kitchen, tossing them with a variety of freshly ground seasonings and spices. And by 2008, their locally-focused seedling of an idea had flourished into a full-fledged, family-run company, with the Bell’s signature creation — Sweet and Salty Hazelnuts — at its base.
They remain a best-seller today. Yet the organic cane sugar, cinnamon and chili-dusted nuts are only one branch of the business. Following the motto that simple is better, a variety of wholesome, sustaining, and hyper-regional nibbles soon followed suit. The current Albina City lineup includes packets of non-GMO corn, toasted for crunch and tossed with flavorings like salt, pepper, garlic, onion, hot habanero and smoky paprika. You’ll also find honey candied pecans on offer (a real family favorite) as well as addictive Tavern Nut Mix — a zesty combo of turmeric-tinged almonds, hazelnuts, corn, pecans, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and chickpeas, that pairs especially well with beer (or cheese!).
There’s no question that the company has done wonders for the local food economy, by proving that you don’t need to venture abroad to find high quality products that go easy on sweeteners, artificial ingredients, and added oil. The Bell family ensures that integrity by overseeing every single step of the process, continuing to lovingly craft their small-batch snacks by hand.
In a nutshell, Albina City is a culinary credit to the Pacific Northwest.